Written by Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach at Georgetown University
I. Bench procedures:
– The bench must be totally engaged into the game (mentally and physically). Lack of engagement is a clear indicator to the coach that the player is more concerned with themselves than the team. Being engaged is sending a message to the coaches and the teammates that the player is ready to play and is invested in the game.
– The bench must cheer for their teammates and not sit as a spectator. The cheering must be positive and empowering. It must be the type of cheering that you would want to hear when you are on the floor.
– The players on the bench stand and extent their hand to the teammate that is coming out the game. This is a form of solidarity and a demonstration of TEAMWORK!
– The player exiting the game must “high five” with each member on the bench and pick up their water at the end of the bench from the manager and return to the available seat next to an assistant coach so that they can receive feedback on their performance. The touch and agreeing is acknowledging of their teammates.
– Never go to the end of then bench to sit after coming out of the game. This will only allow the player to disengage with the team and think of themselves. The player will invariably start to ask questions of themselves and others as to why he got taken out the game. Also by going to the end of the bench the assistant coaches can not give them the proper feedback that can be helpful to the player and, more importantly, the team.
– Be vocal, especially when the team’s defense is in front of the bench. This is a great way to start the game engaged. Communicating with your teams while you are on the bench is equally as valuable as the communication that is taking place on the court. Provided that the communication is the same and it benefits the team.
– When a time out is called, sprint out to meet your teammates who are in the game but do not cross half court (rule violation). Whether the situation is good or bad, the team must remain a team (a unit). Furthermore, it sends a message to your opponents that they are playing a TEAM and not a collection of individuals.
II. Time outs:
Another aspect of the game of basketball that often gets over looked and is often mismanaged are Timeouts. You can easily identify the most successful teams from the teams that do not win by their time outs. It is their structure and organization that allows for the maximum amount of necessary information to be disseminated during the timeout. As soon as the ball is put into play you will know right away how much of the information was retained. Winning teams execute after timeouts (ATO).
Each team is given the same number of timeouts per game. How they are used and when they are used often have an impact on the outcome of the games. I love the rules that the NBA and FIBA use regarding time outs in their games. Both the NBA and FIBA place a high value on timeouts which makes their respective games more interesting from a tactical standpoint.
There are two types of timeouts in the College and High School game; the 30 second time out and the Full time out. Each must be handled differently by the coach so that the timeout is maximized positively and not wasted negatively.
A. 30 second timeout:
The players in the game must remain standing up and on the court. The players not in the game must remain off the court. So, it is imperative that the players in the game SPRINT off the court to the bench area. The players in the game should remain in front of the coach standing from the coaches left to right (players right to left) 1-5 (pt.g, g, sf, pf & c). By lining up this way, the coach does not have to look around for each player, he can talk freely because he knows exactly where each position/player is in the huddle.
B. Full Time out/TV time outs:
These timeouts are longer. The managers will hand out the towels and water bottles while the coaches meet away from the team. When the head coach is ready to address the team all water and towels are taken away by the managers so that the players an give the coach their full attention. The players will sit from the coaches left to right 1-5. Every coach should have a role during full/tv time outs: one coach should know the foul and timeout situation. Another coach should watch for changes in the opponents line ups and potential match ups. The coach responsible for the scout should assist the head coach the most during timeouts. The head manager must help to get the team out of the huddle after the first horn sounds.
Winning is hard! Consistently winning is even harder. The teams that consistently win have a bench procedure and effectively manage time outs with their organization. They win more games than they lose. They understand the impact that both aspects have on the game. Just watch how engaged their bench is during the game, look how the players coming off the bench perform,and finally, look how well they execute after time out (either offensively or defensively).